"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Monday, July 6, 2009

ACSC/DL & Servant Leadership

I just completed another Air Command and Staff College Distance Learning (ACSC/DL) course. This one was called “The Practice of Command” and instructs on how to be a squadron commander.

There were only two books students were required to purchase for this course. Both of the assigned books are products of Christian authors and appear to be written in the spirit of “servant leadership.” Servant leadership, in many popular forms, teaches the ultimate example of leadership is the life of Jesus.

The first book was John C. Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” which can be purchased from ChristianBooks.Com. Nearly every example of good leadership in this book was an easily identifiable Christian. Billy Graham was provided as a positive example of leadership in three different places throughout the book. The book mentioned “church” fifty-three times, “faith” thirteen times, and “God” seven times. ACSC/DL required students purchase the book but did not require the entire book be read. It did, however, require Maxwell’s section entitled “We Add Values to Others When We…Do Things That God Values” which points to scripture as the method to divine what God values. The ACSC/DL required reading informs us, “when he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne (Maxwell, 2007, 56).”

The second book students were required to purchase was “A Leader’s Legacy” by James M. Kouzes. Kouzes is also the author of a book entitled, “Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge” which had a foreword written by the same John C. Maxwell mentioned above. In “A Leader’s Legacy” we see “faith” mentioned five times while “servant” is mentioned six times.

Servant leadership with a Christian flavor is certainly taught in ACSC/DL but I'm not sure how prevalent the idea is for most commanders. The idea that the "leader" should submit him or herself to their followers as a servant is an interesting one and perhaps it plays in Air Force leadership culture more than I realize. Air University is, after all, the "intellectual and leadership center of the Air Force."

Works Cited:

Maxwell, John C., “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You” Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee, 2007.

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